Review Time

By Tammy Flanagan

November 14, 2008

Open season is in full swing. There are only 24 days left to choose your health plan, decide on dental and vision coverage, and figure out how much to put away in a flexible spending account. If you haven't done so already, you need to set aside some time to review your options.

After spending a couple of hours looking at my family's situation, I think I've decided on a new health plan for us for 2009. I'll walk you through the process I used in the hope that it might help you make your selections.

First, here are some of the overall factors I used to narrow my choices. My family wants a plan that:

If you're not sure exactly what is important for you or even what options are available, you can use one of several online tools to help narrow your choices:


Based on the comparisons I made among the plans available in my area, I found a plan that will:

To make comparisons between plans, I used the brochure that our current health plan sent and linked to the online version of the brochure of the other plan I was considering. That way, it was easy to do side-by-side comparisons on the things that were important for our family. You can find 2009 plan brochures on OPM's Web site. Just locate the plans available in your area and click on the plan brochure link.

Now all you need is an hour or two, and you may find that you can save yourself some money next year.

Tammy Flanagan is the senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc., which conducts federal retirement planning workshops and seminars. She has spent 25 years helping federal employees take charge of their retirement by understanding their benefits.

For more retirement planning help, tune in to "For Your Benefit," presented by the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc. live on Monday mornings at 10 a.m. ET on or on WFED AM 1500 in the Washington metro area.

By Tammy Flanagan

November 14, 2008